BADGER BEAN BAG
During the month of February, I spent a total of 3 weeks in the greater Kalahari region of Botswana, hoping to capture the typical ‘dramatic skies’ and summer rainfall so typical to the African summer. Unfortunately, the Kalahari was exceptionally dry and not once was there an opportunity to capture the image I was hoping for, however it was on the one morning that we had a little bit of rain that I had a once in a lifetime sighting!
With daily temperatures reaching well above 40 degrees Celsius, the early morning rain was welcomed by all the Kalahari’s inhabitants, especially the lions. I came across the pride, playing jubilantly in a dried-out riverbed, chasing each other and showing off their acrobatic skills in a fashionable manner.
My eye suddenly caught a female carrying a strange black thing in her mouth, and at first thought I recognized it as a ‘Badger’ photographic beanbag but on closer inspection I realized she was carrying something else, something small, striped and precious!
Honey badgers are known for their fearsome reputation, often chasing off lions and leopards with a powerful bite and razor like claws that match their formidable and ferocious attitude. Over time predators such as lions and leopards have learnt to respect these cunning creatures, avoiding confrontation as much as possible. However, in the case of a young honey badger, this respect was not awarded.
The lioness scooped up the young badger, carrying it back to the pride in a similar manner she would carry her own young, and presented it to the others as a prized gift, showing off her [false] bravery. The lioness carried the defenseless youngster around for several minutes before laying down to open her present.
It was a gruesome scene that seemingly lasted hours – despite in reality only minutes – as she toyed with the struggling badger, until finally the lifeless body was thrown into the air and snatched by another lion. A game of ‘tag’ followed, as almost every lion took an opportunity to play with the lifeless body in a sinister act that showed retribution of some sort, possibly taking revenge from a previous humiliation?
The sighting continued for just over an hour until every lion had its share and the carcass eventually discarded, still intact. I sat there speechless. Torn between the fact I had seen a tragic end to one of my favorite creatures and the privilege of having witnessed a truly rare event, I left the area with a pang of emptiness.
As a wildlife photographer it is important to understand that nature is always perfect, and its laws must be both understood and appreciated. The intricate system of predator-prey is a balance of power and craft, where the winner today may be the loser tomorrow, and our emotions must never interfere or cloud our perception of these wonderful creatures, who know only one rule: survival.
I have limited the images of this post due to the fact that I am saving the actual photos for my second book publication, however have decided to give you a ‘sneak peak’ into what’s to come!
See a short video here: BADGER BEAN BAG | YOUTUBE